One of the questions being asked about our book Agile Strategy Execution: Revolutionizing the HOW!, is a desire to better understand what it is about the Agile Strategy Execution Framework (ASEF) that makes it agile. As mentioned in previous posts, I have defined Agile Strategy Execution to mean “translating strategy into a reality that is aligned, accountable and responsive.”
In other words, Agile Strategy Execution delivers timely value in an aligned, accountable and responsive way that contributes to the achievement of identified goals or business outcomes. These include growing revenue, improving margins enabling more effective internal efficiency and effectiveness, strengthening customer or partner Net Promoter Scores/satisfaction/loyalty, reducing risk or driving competitive advantage.
As everyone who has any connection to software development knows, this idea of enabling execution agility is not exactly new. For the last 15+ years the Agile Manifesto has been a key driver behind enabling a software development process that is more responsive to change. In other words, systems/IT departments are better aligned and responsive and accountable to business user needs as they evolve, or in some cases transform, in response to market and customer landscape changes.
So as to make strategy execution agile, we have integrated a number of important ‘Agile Concepts with Strategic Planning ‘Best Practices’ and created a set of strategy execution themes that value:
As most leaders and strategy practitioners know, strategy execution efforts for the last 20+ years have, on average, not been all that successful. The research statistics are everywhere. In the 1980s business reengineering was thought to be the answer and yet on average 70% of those initiatives apparently failed. Twenty years later, with change management all the rage, a 2006 global study of 1,500 executives indicated that 62% of change initiatives failed to create the desired performance results. In 2013, a PMI-The Economist sponsored research effort showed that for 61% respondents, their biggest challenge was in “bridging the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation.”
n April 2015, Harvard professors Stull, Homkes and Stull, based on research involving 400+ global CEO’s, provided insight into why strategy execution unravels by identifying and debunking “five of the most pernicious myths and replacing them with more accurate perspectives”. These included:
Leaders of most firms today are painfully aware of how difficult it is to execute strategies effectively in their organizations. Industry research has well documented this reality, with the needle barely moving over the past 20 years. Adding to these woes are continued drop-off in employee engagement scores, a unique set of work life expectations from those early in career and even more challenges in executing needed business, operating model and culture changes. After years facilitating the strategic planning process, digitizing strategic initiative execution planning at the portfolio level, and driving metrics variance-based organization performance management systems, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what lens is used, current governance and decision making processes must become more agile. To do so leaders need to focus on achieving better organizational alignment, accountability and responsiveness. For those unaware:
So how does a leader we make strategy execution more aligned, accountable and responsive i.e. agile? Based on customer experiences both large and small, Agile Strategy Execution co-author Alan Leeds and I, have built a revolutionary approach that we are calling the Agile Strategy Execution Framework. It integrates the strengths of agile concepts with strategy execution Best Practices, resulting in an easy to use set of principles and techniques that are organized in a meaningful, practical and quickly deployable way. Note that the ASE Framework assumes that there is already in place a strategic plan with goals and strategies that are S.M.A.R.T. not just aspirational. (i.e. are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. )
Our ASE Framework™ is composed of six Dimensions, which are summarized as follows:
In addition are two enabling or disabling Influencing Factors:
The Culture Influencing Factor involves assessing formal vs. informal, and preached vs. practiced corporate culture. Leaders can then either use their culture as an enabling driver for managing change or if needed initiate processes to drive needed culture change.
Second is an Influencing Factor, Connected Governance,™ involves connecting leadership practices, employee engagement mechanisms and collaboration processes using leading edge digitization experiences to provide actionable intelligence.
This Agile Strategy Execution framework enables organizations to deliver timely value in an aligned, accountable and responsive way that contributes to the achievement of business outcomes because:
Gaye I. Clemson is an award winning storyteller, change leader, employee engagement evangelis and Agile Strategy Execution guru who brings many years of consulting and functional expertise strategic planning, business transformation, sales, marketing, services, international business and key initiative portfolio management. She speaks frequently at national and industry conferences and is a published author of oral history narratives. She holds an Honours BCom from Queen’s University at Kingston and is a Stanford Certified Project Manager.